BERKELEY, Calif. -- One day after protesters brawled with supporters of Donald Trump outside of a rally in nearby San Jose, Sen. Bernie Sanders condemned political violence and anyone who committed it while backing his campaign.
"Violence is absolutely and totally unacceptable," said Sanders, after a press conference on the jobs market with former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. "If people are thinking about violence, please do not tell anybody you are a Bernie Sanders supporter, because those are not the supporters that I want."
The scattered riots, which broke out late Thursday evening and were played back all day by news outlets, had nothing to do with the Sanders campaign. The crowd filmed giving chase to Trump supporters, and pelting one with eggs, included anarchists and unaffiliated activists.
But in the hours after the riots, a debate about their morality and meaning broke out in some sectors of the left. Emmett Rensin, an essayist and a deputy editor of Vox, was suspended from his job after advising people to "start a riot" if Trump came to their town, part of a running argument about whether violent protests were an understandable response to a candidate with views resembling those of Europe's far right. The question to Sanders today, from a local reporter, was prompted by clips of some protesters chanting "Bernie" as they hectored Trump supporters.
"I understand how reprehensible and disgraceful Donald Trump's positions are; how ignorant they are," said Sanders. "I can understand the anger, I surely can, because I feel it. The bigotry that is coming out of his mouth. The insults to the Mexican community, the Latino community, the Muslim community, and women, and African-Americans and veterans. I understand the anger. But we are not going to defeat Trump by throwing eggs or getting involved in violence of any kind. We defeat Trump when we stand together as one people and fight for a progressive agenda. Educate. Organize. Bring out large numbers of people."